Poles murdered for saving Jews commemorated in Marki

Marianna, Władysław and Stanisława Banaszek, murdered by the Nazi Germans for helping Jews during WWII, were honoured on Tuesday by the Pilecki Institute during the ceremony in Marki near Warsaw, under the initiative “Called by Name”.

“As a part of the initiative, 32 people have already been commemorated. Today, they will be joined by Marianna, Władysław and Stasia from the Banaszek family. I am glad that not only are their relatives with us during this ceremony, but also the inhabitants of Marek, who thus cherish the memory of their inhabitants - said the Deputy Minister of Culture Magdalena Gawin, also present at the ceremony.

Despite it being the thirteenth commemoration within the project, for the first time in history it was possible to contact the living descendants of the survivors - Sharon Ben-Shem Da Silva, a granddaughter of Rabbi Reuven Ben-Shem (Rubin Feldshaw) who was saved by the Banaszek family. Her letter was read during the ceremony, in which she emphasised her great gratitude to the honoured.

“This is something extraordinary. It took great courage, they knew their lives were in danger. As far as I know, they gave my family not only shelter, but also kind care and mutual respect. I don't know what would have happened to my grandfather if he had not found shelter in the Banaszek household. They certainly saved his life. I am really grateful to them and it would be my greatest pleasure to meet their descendants”, she wrote.

During the German occupation, the widow, Marianna, and her children, struggling to make ends meet and receiving poor food rations from the occupiers, would often starve. Looking for an additional source of income, they jointly decided to rent their house to Jews who had escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto.

In the autumn of 1943, the Banaszek family was warned about a planned search of their apartment by the Germans. Considering the deadly risk Jews could face if they were found, Marianna told them to secretly leave the shelter, while she stayed with her family at home.

In the morning, the Germans began a search, finding only Władysław and Stanisława. The military police of the occupiers managed to find a bunker under the floor, which indicated that the information about helping Jews was true. Władysław and Stanisław were taken to a brickyard in Marki, where they were shot and buried. Marianna was shot dead in her house when she returned from the church. She was buried in the garden. After the war, the bodies of Marianna, Władysław and Stanisława Banaszek were moved to the cemetery in Marki.

The project “Called by Name” concerns people with Polish nationality murdered for helping Jews over the period of the Nazi German occupation of Poland. It was initiated by the Pilecki Institute. Its goal is to present stories of such heroes to the wider public.

The Pilecki Institute is an organisation that serves to commemorate, document and study Polish history of the 20th century.